Kids Healthy Cooking – Healthy Sweet Treats

IMG_6963As human beings one of our biggest vices is all things sweet. The same goes for our kids as well, they prefer bananas over carrots, the cookie over the banana and so on. But what if we could create healthy sweet treats for kids that they would not only love and meet their need for sweet, but would provide them with a nutritional impact full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients?

When we decided to go sugar free at our house I got a lot of looks from other people and questions about how can I deny them all the yummy things that are part of a regular kids life, like cupcakes, chocolates and cookies. The truth is they have never been denied, they still enjoy all those things at our house and more. The difference is not in the taste which is just as yummy if not more so than the ‘original’ – but in what they are made of. We have simply switched to natural sweeteners and added in foods that are super high in nutrients. And honestly they not only gobble them up but request them.

It is easy to make the switch at your house too. Just start slowly adding in one or two recipes and go from there. Make it easy. Plus if you get the kids involved in making these healthy sweet treats your chances of them eating them goes up simply because they have helped.

Also starting with ingredients and foods that they like is key to success when getting kids to eat and try new things. If you pick something they like, they are already interested and will be more open. This is why just before Valentine’s Day in our Mini Chefs class I chose two healthy sweet treat recipes for kids that were chocolate. You should have seen the kids eyes get big and how excited they got when I told them what we were making that day was chocolate (same thing happened when we made the chocolate banana smoothie a few weeks ago).

They were all so excited to try it when it was ready to eat, even though they had watched some ‘weird’ ingredients go in like avocado and chia seeds. Chocolate overruled it all.

Raw Chocolate Pudding

The thing I love about this recipe is the fact that you simply put all the ingredients in the blender and mix. In just minutes you have a smooth, fluffy and delicious chocolate pudding.

2 ripe bananas, peeled and slicedhealthy sweet treats for kids

1 avocado, pitted and peeled

2 tbsp. raw cacao powder (this is different than cocao powder)

1 tsp. agave nectar

Put all ingredients in blender in the order listed. Start on low, slowly turn speed up to high. Blend for 30 seconds on high or until desired consistency is reached. *it’s sweet as is, but if you’d like to increase sweetness add more agave nectar to taste – agave is twice as sweet as sugar so use small amounts and taste before adding more 

Avocados are fantastic additions to recipes. Not only are they mild in taste, they are high in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, B5, B6, C and E as well as Omega 3’s. They offer a lot of health benefits like improved mood, reduced stress, good eye health and more. They are also a great food that actually curbs sugar cravings! Because they are high in healthy fats they slow digestion and prevent the body’s blood sugar from spiking after eating. It is also true that when we crave sugar it is often because we are missing certain nutrients and adding a healthy fat will curb this craving as the body becomes satisfied.

No Bake Chocolate Macaroons

1 bananahealthy sweet treats for kids

¼ c. coconut oil, melted

¼ c. pure maple syrup

½ tsp. vanilla

6 tbsp. cacao powder

1.5 c. unsweetened coconut

1 tbsp. chia seeds

small pinch sea salt

In a medium size bowl mash banana well until there are no clumps. Stir in melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Sift cacao powder and stir into banana mixture. Stir in chia seeds, coconut and salt.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop a teaspoon at a time onto parchment paper. Put in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm. Store in freezer until ready to enjoy.

Makes approx 15 macaroons

Chia seeds are not only high in dietary fibre and protein as well as many other vitamins, they make you feel full as well as being an ingredient that stabilizes blood sugar. Cacao powder is rich in vitamins and nutrients such as iron, antioxidants and high in B Vitamins. Cacao does differ from cocoa as though they come from the same plant the difference is in how they are processed and the amount of nutrients that are left in it. Cacao is also considered a superfood while cocoa is not.healthy sweet treats for kids

So have fun, enjoy! not only will the kids love these healthy sweet treats you may find that you love them to (I have a hard time eating only one chocolate macaroon at a time…) They are quick easy and so yummy you and your kids will forget that they are actually good for you.

Next week pancakes with super cool faces!

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

IMG_4129I think I have finally rubbed off on my mother. All these years of me changing my eating (dairy free, sugar free and sometimes though now more often gluten free) and hanging out at her house. She was always very accommodating and ensured the meals met our needs.

But now she has gone off on her own! and is giving me all kinds of new recipes to try. It kick started when she and my Dad did a cleanse this past summer. Mum discovered some fabulous and tasty new recipes that they have now made part of their regular diet. So when they were here visiting recently Mum made a couple of her new favorite gluten free muffin recipes – pumpkin and a fruit one. I say a fruit one because we had yet to decide what kind of fruit it would be. This recipe (below) Mum uses as a base but has experimented using different fruit and nut combinations, like peach pecan, nectarine almond, etc.

strawberriespictureThe day she was making the muffins at our place, my daughter Chloe, suggested Mum use strawberries and rhubarb. We just happened to have some rhubarb in the the freezer left over from earlier in the summer when I made a sugar free strawberry rhubarb pie for the first time, and Mum bought some strawberries. Voila! We were set.

Mum was a little unsure how they would turn out but was willing to try the combination. For me, knowing how much I enjoy strawberry rhubarb pie had no doubt that it would be fabulous!

And of course, they were. Fresh and warm out of the oven, all the adults got to try them first, as the kids were all in bed (yay for us!). They were delicious! Moist, tasty and full of flavor. My Mum thought they could use a little more fruit but she prefers lots of fruit in her muffin. I thought it was fine, just our personal preferences.

What I also really like about this recipe is there are no eggs, you use chia seeds as the replacement and I think that is fabulous! Not only do you eliminate the eggs, but now you are adding a superfood. Fantastic!

So whether you are gluten free or not these are an excellent muffin. Give them a try and comment below, letting me know what you think.

Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

2 c. brown rice flourRhubarb-timperley-early1-300x300

1/2 c. arrowroot powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. chia seeds

3/4 c. warm water

1 c. strawberries

1 c. rhubarb

1/3 c. coconut oil, melted

1/3 c. coconut sugar

1-2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. walnuts

In a large bowl combine brown rice flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In another medium sized bowl, whisk together chia seeds and water. Mix in strawberries and rhubarb, coconut oil, coconut sugar and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients over dry and gently mix. Do not over mix. Fold in walnuts.

Line muffin tin with paper liners or grease tin with coconut oil. Spoon batter into each cup. Bake at 350F for about 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Makes 12-15 moist delicious muffins

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

IMG_2489One of the many things I have always enjoyed about the holidays is all the treats and goodies that come with the season. Yummy cookies and squares, family favorites and traditions that I grew up with.

Slowly I have been adjusting these favorites, such as Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Squares, Candy Cane cookies and Isch Tartlets, to name a few, to a sugar and dairy free version for us to enjoy. But I love it when  I find a new recipe that I think fits the ‘holiday bill’, that requires no adjusting. This was the case with the Sweet Potato Pecan Pie which I found in Clean Eating magazine. The picture alone looked scrumptious so I knew I had to try it!

I have to admit I did make some adjustments to the original recipe, not because it was not fine as it was, but because I decided to make some different choices. For instance it called for olive oil in the crust and though I am sure it would have turned out fine, the thought of it made my stomach roll, so I used coconut oil instead.

The pie was a hit with everyone, all the kids loved it and my Mum, as she was visiting (though she loves sweet potatoes so it wasn’t a hard sell). Of course it is super good for you too!

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and choppedIMG_2487

1 ¼ c. rolled oats

¾ c. pecan halves

1/3 c. almond flour

¾ c. coconut sugar

2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. coconut oil

1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/8 tsp. plus ¼ tsp. sea salt

1 cup organic firm silken tofu

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ c. unsweetened golden raisins

2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

Place potatoes in medium saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain potatoes and transfer to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Transfer to fridge and chill completely about 30 minutes.

Prepare crust by putting rolled oats and ¼ c. of pecans into food processor. Puree until in a fine powder. Add almond flour, ¼ c. coconut sugar, 2 tbsp. coconut oil, ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice, 1/8 tsp. sea salt. Pulse until combined. Gently press mixture evenly into the bottom of a non stick 9 inch spring form pan. Place pan in oven and bake for 18-120 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let crust cool completely.

Pecan topping

Pecan topping

Prepare filling by pureeing tofu, remaining ½ c. coconut sugar, vanilla, remaining 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and remaining ¼ tsp. salt until smooth.

Add chilled potato puree and pulse until just combined and smooth. Pour into cooled pie crust and smooth top with spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until filling is just firm in the center, light golden on top and cracks begin to form in the center of the filling. Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 2 hours.

While pie cools, prepare pecan topping.  In a small saucepan on high, heat remaining ½ c. pecans, raisins, maple syrup, 2 tsp. coconut oil and 2 tbsp. water until simmering. Reduce heat to medium and simmer stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until no liquid remains in pan. Transfer mixture to bowl and let cool completely.

To serve run a sharp paring knife around the outside of pie to loosen from sides. Remove sides from spring form pan. Sprinkle pecan topping over top of pie and slice.

Serves 10

A Few Apple Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

For those of you who caught up with me last week, you’ll be pleased to know that I am still plugging away at using up the apples from my apple tree. Which is really good for you because I am finding and testing some great apple recipes which I then share. Plus my kids and D’Wayne are thoroughly enjoying being the taste testers, as are some of my neighbors.

Like I said there is a serious amount of baking at my house right now. There is not a day that goes by that I am not whipping up something in the kitchen and I am getting good at doing it quickly. Yesterday morning I whipped up some apple muffins between breakfast and heading out to my friends for coffee at 10 am.

Yesterday’s Apple Cinnamon muffin was a gluten, dairy and sugar free muffin, sweetened with maple syrup with coconut oil and flax seed meal. I am finding that I really like those recipes with that little extra kick of nutrition in there. You just mix it in and can’t even taste it.

I found this recipe on another blog site called the The Simple Veganista who shares raw and vegan recipes – who actually found it originally on the blog The Vanilla Bean. And I have to say these muffins are very good! In fact my oldest son Matthew’s response when he came home afterschool was “Damn these are good!” with his face all lit up with excitement.

They are super moist and very tasty. The only downside to this recipe is that one batch does not make enough – only 9 muffins! I did stretch it to 12 but got some very small muffins out of it.

Apple Cake Muffin

Last week I tried the Gluten Free Goddess’s Apple Cake muffin recipe, which we also enjoyed as this muffin has chunks of apple in it which I really liked. Many of the recipes I found called for grated apple and though this was good I wanted to really taste and notice the apple, so I liked the chunks. Her recipes still call for refined sugar so a quick substitution of coconut sugar and I was able to whip these babies up! It even called for powdered sugar sprinkled on top once they were done baking and I was able to substitute for this as well! See recipe below.

I love muffins that have a little sprinkle of something on top, and both these muffin recipes do -the first being a coconut sugar and cinnamon mixture. Yum! There is just something fun about sprinkling something on top 🙂

The only thing I find with the Gluten Free Goddess is many of her muffin recipes are the same base with slight changes in them to make them apple, blueberry or whatever kind of muffin it is. Though I do admire her, as all her recipes are original, tried and true; I like a little more variety in my muffins, which is why I search out other recipes to try. Regardless I do have to say even though her base is the same, I have never gone wrong with one of her recipes. They are always delicious!

Either way I would recommend either recipe if you are looking for a gluten free apple muffin, though the Apple Cinnamon one is the favorite at our house (I used coconut milk for our non-dairy milk, though you can use rice or almond milk if you prefer).

I still have a huge basket full of apples and am not sure what to do with them next as I am really looking for something that will use them up in large amounts! If you have any apple recipes to share please post them in the comments for everyone to try, especially me.

In the meantime go whip up one of these and then sit down for a few minutes and enjoy, savor, maybe grab a cup of coffee, while the kids play quietly….ha ha oh I’m dreaming again!

Regardless enjoy!

Sugar Free Powdered Sugar (replacement for regular icing sugar)

1 cup nonfat dry milk (for dairy free use powdered coconut milk)

1 cup cornstarch

2/3 cup Krisda Stevia for baking

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whip until blended and powdered. Store in an airtight container.

This replacement can be used in any recipe calling for icing sugar.

Yummy Easy Vegan Treats (with chocolate!)

I love shopping at Community Natural Foods, a local organic and natural food store. Not only do they have a wide variety of products available and good prices, they often have someone there sampling yummy recipes. Not only do they provide the samples for you but they also have the recipe printed out and ready for you to take a copy!

Not only are the recipes delicious they are good for you, often a vegan recipe with natural sweeteners and usually a little pinch of some kind of superfood in there. This is where I have gotten the Cinnamon Salted Caramel Brownie recipe that I made and shared with all my friends in Kananaskis last January – which everyone loved and would never have known that it was no dairy, no sugar unless I had told them. So I was quite excited when I went in on Saturday and discovered 2 yummy recipes to try.

I was so excited I came right home and made them both, even having to run back out to the store to grab a missing ingredient. Fairly quick and easy they both turned out fabulously! I even shared a sample with a couple of my neighbors who quickly asked for the recipe.

I love it when I find good recipes like this as I think that a lot of people feel that eating healthy means more fruits and vegetables and that you have to give up a lot of the sweet treats, which just isn’t true. You can find many, if not even more delicious in some cases, treats that not only satisfy your ‘treat fix’ but provide many essential vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need. It’s great, have a sweet and it’s actually healthy and beneficial for you!

No Bake Chocolate Macaroons

1 banana

1/4 c. coconut oil

1/4 c. pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 tbsp. cacao powder

1.5 c unsweetened coconut

1 tbsp. chia seeds

small pinch sea salt

In a medium size bowl mash banana well until there are no clumps. Stir in melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Sift cacao powder and stir into banana mixture. Stir in chia seeds, coconut and salt.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop a teaspoon at a time onto parchment paper. Put in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm. Store in freezer until ready to enjoy.

Makes approx 15 macaroons.

Almond Butter Rice Crispy Treats

1/2 c. chunky almond butter

1/2 c. brown rice syrup

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. Earth Balance

1/2 tsp. sea salt

3.5 c Erewhon Brown Rice Crisp cereal

Chocolate Drizzle

1/4 c. homemade raw organic chocolate, left in liquid form

1 tbsp. almond butter

pinch salt

Shredded coconut for garnish

Line an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper.

In a large pot put in brown rice syrup, Earth Balance, almond butter and salt. Melt over medium low heat until well combined and heated through. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla; then stir in brown rice cereal.

Scoop and spread evenly into 8×8 pan. Press down with finger or roll with a pastry roller (just a note about the pastry roller – I had never thought of using this before and seriously it is the cat’s meow. Way easier then trying to press it into the pan with your fingers and makes it flatter and smoother). Place in freezer for 5 minutes while you make chocolate glaze.

Make raw organic chocolate according to recipe (cacao butter, vanilla, natural sweetener and cacao powder – for full recipe and directions go here). Stir in almond butter and salt.

Remove pan from freezer and drizzle with chocolate. Sprinkle with coconut and place in freezer until firm – about 15 minutes. Slice into squares.

Bars will hold their shape quite well at room temperature but may be stored in freezer or fridge.

 

 

Chocolate Dream Pie

Each year on Valentine’s Day I make some kind of dessert or special treat for me and the kids. It adds a little something extra to the day and something to look forward to. Usually something chocolate, I like to experiment with new recipes and new ways of doing things. Last year I made chocolate covered strawberries, dipping them in my own homemade chocolate, the year before chocolate cupcakes.

This year I made one of our new favorites Chocolate Dream Pie. This no bake, sugar free, dairy free, gluten free dessert is to die for! Made all in the blender it is delicious (and guilt free). There are a few unique ingredients, which might turn you off at first, but trust me you will not be disappointed.

Irish Moss

For instance, irish moss, which is a kind of seaweed gathered on the coast of Prince Edward Island, helps congeal and set your pie. Only a pinch is needed and depending on where you live, may be hard to find. But once you know what you are looking for you can track it down, even if you order it online. I was able to find it here locally in Calgary at the Light Cellar.

My kids love it, of course. Matthew’s eyes get big and he starts to salivate. Luke and Chloe who had their first piece, and when done, promptly asked for a second piece. I also shared it with my girlfriend today who not only asked me for the recipe, but regretted sharing it with her son (who also loved it) because she wanted more for herself 🙂

Quick and easy to make, this recipe won’t disappoint.

Chocolate Dream Pie

Crust

1 c. hazelnut mash (from making nut milk)

1 c. walnuts

3-4 tbsp. agave nectar (I like to use Ojio as it is a higher quality agave)

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Filling

3/4 oz. irish moss (soak a small pinch of irish moss in water overnight, rinse well and use in recipe)

1 1/2 c. hazelnut milk

1/4 c. agave nectar

1/4 pitted dates

1/3 c. cacao powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla powder

pinch sea salt

1 rounded tsp. non-GMO lecithin

3/4 c. coconut oil

For crust: Make the *nut milk and use the leftover mash for making the crust. Put all the ingredients into the Vitamix in order listed. Select variable 8. Quickly turn machine on and off, scraping the sides of the container with a spatula between pulses, until a damp meal is formed.

Press the crust into a lightly greased (with coconut oil) 9 inch pie plate.

For filling: Place all ingredients in Vitamix in order listed. Select varaible 1. Turn Vitamix on slowly and increase speed to 10, then to high. Blend 30-40 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.

Pour into prepared crust. Place in fridge until set (about 1 hour).

*Hazelnut milk

Place 1 cup of hazelnuts, soaked overnight and drained, with 3 cups of water in Vitamix. Selecting variable 1, turn machine on slowly increasing speed to 10 and then to high. Blend for 30 seconds.

Over top of a medium size bowl, pour contents form Vitamix into nut bag. Strain through nut bag. Use milk and mash for recipe. Store leftover milk in fridge.

 

Vanilla Bean Cake- a.k.a.Guilt Free Cake

Vanilla Bean Cake

When I tell people that we have completely eliminated sugar at our house I get a variety of responses – from “Good for you!” to shock and amazement “How did you do that?” I even have some people who swear they can’t live without their sugar fix, which I think is cute actually.

We originally made this choice due to Matthew’s needs but I feel that it has benefited us all. In fact, through my sugar free journey I have slowly been able to ‘convert’ some of my other family members. Not that I am on a mission to convert anyone, it is all personal choice and it is not for me or anyone else to get preachy and tell people what to do. But I do like talking about it and sharing what I have learned with others, and if it benefits them, then I am happy to have helped.

My family became interested in what I was doing as they were watching the changes I was making and how I was doing it. They became curious, so some of them decided to try it themselves, choosing to do so for different reasons. My mother has done quite a bit without sugar, now making bread, cookies, cakes, etc. She is also very accommodating when we come to visit and makes sure that she has food and meals for us that meet the no sugar requirement. Bless her!

I also have influenced my aunt and one of my sisters, so much so that they are coming to me for recipes and tips. They are learning themselves too how to adjust a recipe that they already have to meet their needs.

Once Upon a Time

My sister Cathy, currently of Vancouver, BC and part of the costume team for Once Upon a Time (I love that show!) came to me looking for a recipe for vanilla bean cake. I had come across this when working with Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids and Smokin’ Hot Mom. Cathy had tried a vanilla bean cake before without much success so was looking for a new recipe.

She tried the recipe I gave her as is but found that for her personal tastes it was a bit dry and needed a little something to spruce it up. So she adjusted and revised the recipe and now makes this moist delicious cake! Which I can vouch is true, as I got to have a piece this summer. She usually tops it with vanilla bean ice cream, but it is very good without.

It was so good that I asked her to send me her revised recipe to post on my blog and share with you folks. So here it is, enjoy! And it is a very healthy cake, dairy free, sugar free, gluten free and full of fibre, so go ahead have 2 pieces!

Vanilla Bean Cake

2 cups cooked white beans

Coconut Oil

6 eggs

3/4 tsp. liquid stevia

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/3 c. honey

1/4 c. coconut oil, liquified

1/3 c. coconut flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1.5 tsp. baking powder

1 fresh lemon

In a blender or food processor add white beans, rinsed and at room temperature (this is so they don’t cook the eggs or congeal the coconut oil), eggs, stevia, vanilla and honey. Puree well.

Then add to blender coconut oil, coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda and puree well.

Transfer mixture from blender to a bowl. Add the zest of one lemon.  Fold in by hand.

Squeeze all the juice of the lemon into a cup and add 1 pkg.  (1 g) of stevia sweetner.  Stir and set aside until after the cake is out of the oven.

Pour mixture into a spring form pan, or a well greased 9” cake pan. Sprinkle fresh or frozen blueberries on the top.

Bake at 325 F for 55 minutes.  Check if it’s done by inserting a knife in the centre, if it comes out clean, it’s done.  Otherwise bake for  5-10 additional minutes, checking often so it doesn’t over bake.

Once cake is removed from the oven, let stand for 10 minutes.  Then, while still warm, pour lemon juice mixture over top of cake.

It is delicious warm and plain, or add a scoop of frozen dessert such as Organic Rice Dream Frozen Dessert.

Vanilla Bean Cake topped with yummy ice cream

Next week I will have my first guest blogger, Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids. She is a certified holistic health coach who believes and educates women and families how to live and eat well in a world that doesn’t. She has many tips and recipes on how to eat and live sugar free as well, so if you wish to continue your sugar free learning don’t miss her post next week!